Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer signed Arizona Senate Bill 1043 and House Bill 2356 into law Friday, which make the creation, sale and use of the chemicals that make up the drug known as “bath salts” illegal.
The Drug Enforcement Administration banned the drug and classified bath salts as a Schedule I substance, meaning it has the highest potential of becoming addictive, DEA spokeswoman Ramona Sanchez said.
“These synthetic chemicals are being marketed as legal highs,” she said. “The fact that there’s these chemists (creating the drug) … poses as a danger.”
Sanchez said Vanilla Sky and Bliss are other names for the drug and that bath salts are known to mimic methamphetamines and cocaine.
People who use bath salts have felt the effects of nausea, paranoia and even suffer hallucinations, Sanchez said, and in some cases, users have overdosed.
Sanchez said these designer drugs are easy to make and circumvent the law because chemists could just alter any chemical.
The bills were the first to be signed in the 2012 legislative session because of an emergency clause included by the bills’ sponsors Sen. Linda Gray, R-Glendale and Rep. Karen Fann, R-Prescott.
Fann said it was important for Arizona to recognize a growing concern of teenagers and people in their early 20s using the drug.
“The longer the drug stayed under the radar, the more harm it caused,” Fann said. “(We had) to get these out of the hands of young kids.”
Fann said Arizona police and drug enforcement agencies are already aware of the drug and are to begin taking action.
Designer drugs such as bath salts and spice keep growing in popularity because there is a market for them as long as traditional drugs are illegal, said Alan Proctor, ASU representative for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws.
Proctor said the solution shouldn’t be to ban or criminalize drugs because it just creates more curiosity for people to use and for people to create new drugs.
“People figure out other ways (to produce the drug),” Proctor said. “It brings up an awkward market for drugs that people normally wouldn’t be doing.”
The general public tends to overhype drug use, Proctor said, which is what also creates lawmakers to quickly ban a drug before knowing everything about it.
Since the drug has been banned for consumption by the DEA, researchers have been testing the drugs long-term effects, but nothing substantial has been discovered yet, Sanchez said.
She said lawmakers and the DEA act fast to be on the safe side before the drug’s effects seriously harm anyone else.
“We want to make sure to take action before it becomes more severe,” Sanchez said.
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